Image provided by community group objecting to wind farm plans in the Milltownpass area.

Meeting urged to oppose plans for wind farm in Milltownpass

War has been waged against wind farms in Westmeath, spearheaded by a determined cohort from the Milltownpass, Coralstown and Gaybrook. More than 60 attended a public meeting in Mullingar last Monday night and were urged to oppose plans to put seven of the largest wind turbines in Europe in the area.

Other areas were urged to join in the campaign to ensure no turbines are erected in the county as it is feared that even one would open the floodgates for many more.

The need for a concerted effort by all areas was emphasised.

This proposal would affect the Milltownpass, Kinnegad, Coralstown, Enniscoffey and Gaybrook areas, but it was suggested that similar developments may be planned for Ballinea, Loughnavalley, Kinnegad, Killucan, Delvin, Raharney, The Downs and Crookedwood.

“Don’t let them in,” urged Jonathan Ennis, Coralstown, who lives 900m from the proposed development. He claimed that Cootehill went from having no turbines to having 65 in five years.

“Stamp it out!” declared Tom Wallace, who successfully campaigned against a similar development in Gaybrook 10 years ago. He suggested that the bigger plan was to link wind farms around the county to the SSE Airtricity plant at Rhode in Offaly.

John Delamere of Milltownpass Tidy Towns said all the work that has gone into developing a public amenity and wildlife sanctuary on Milltownpass bog will be for nothing if this “totally inappropriate” development goes ahead.

Fears were expressed that Statkraft, the largest renewable energy generators in Europe and the company behind this plan, may try to bypass Westmeath County Council and apply directly to An Bord Pleanála for planning permission for a Strategic Infrastructure Development.

Members of the audience voiced their concerns and only one man, from Gaybrook, said that the wind farm could be a good thing. He had visited the Mount Lucas wind farm in Offaly and found nothing unfavourable about it.

In attendance were Minister of State Robert Troy, TD, Deputy Sorcha Clarke and Councillors, Emily Wallace and Aoife Davitt.

There were apologies from several public representatives, including Peter Burke, TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government and Planning.

A committee is to be elected with a view to orchestrating the campaign and enlisting the help of a planning expert to advise them on how to submit their objections if and when planning permission is sought.

The application is expected to be submitted in mid-summer.